For My Sunday Song #280 and the final of this 10 song set, we are talking about the 80’s classic “Jessie’s Girl” by Rick Springfield. It is an iconic song and one that screams The 80’s. The song went all the way to #1 and I believe is his only #1 song and garnered Rick a Grammy. Did you know, it was the #1 song in the country when MTV debuted!! The song was from the album “Working Class Dog” and helped catapult the album to Platinum status. Rick Springfield was everywhere and even on TV as he played Dr. Noah Drake on the Daytime Soap of ‘General Hospital” which my mom watched which meant I had to watch it. We didn’t have a lot of TV options back in 1981. I am sure that his TV popularity helped shoot this up the charts as women loved him and hoped to be Jessie’s Girl.
The song is about Rick’s friend’s girlfriend. His name was Gary and not Jessie as Rick was trying to protect the innocent. Rick was in a Stained Glass class with Gary and I guess saw the girl, but actually never met her or knew her name (or he is still protecting the innocent). In fact, he states that the girl probably has no idea the song is about her. Rick was lusting from afar, but at least we got a great song out of it. The lyrics are a little silly at times and it is strange that this old guy (he was in his 30’s at the time) was singing a song about teenagers, but he made it work.
The song is pure bubblegum, pop magic and total power pop bliss at the same time. It has this really cool guitar riff throughout and the solo really pushes the song on to the rock side as well which helped it be popular with everyone. Rick sings it with an energy and honest deliver that makes you feel bad for him that he didn’t have her. I am sure we all had someone we crushed on like that growing up. You feel his yearning for her and that is what connected with everyone. Plus, the music is so damn catchy.
Right after the Creatures of the Night Tour, the band went back in to the studio to complete the follow-up album. Michael James Jackson would stay on board as the producer as the sound he got on “Creatures” was amazing and the band wanted to continue that harder sound. Vinnie Vincent was now an official member of the band as he was on the cover. However, he actually wasn’t an “official member of the band” as he never signed his contract which became an extreme soar spot with Vinnie and the band which we will discuss a little later on in our story.
The ‘Lick it Up’ album, which came out on September 23, 1983, garnered way more attention than ‘Creatures’ for one main reason. The band finally took off the make-up which is something they had been talking about doing since at least the ‘Music from the Elder’ era. They finally did it and the big reveal was on MTV during primetime. I remember this vividly as this was event TV for me as I was a lifelong Kiss fan at the time (and still am today). I remember seeing each member in make-up and then without and I remember thinking, “PUT IT BACK ON!!! OOOOH THE HORROR!!!” No, it really wasn’t that bad. It was actually pretty cool. And just like that Kiss was back in the public eye and they had some songs that could back it up.
For My Sunday Song #149, we are not going real deep for this one. We are going to one of their big hits and a personal favorite called “Panama” off the album ‘1984’. The song reached #13 on the Billboard Hot 100. For me, the song brings back memories of my Senior Trip in High School when we went to Panama City, Florida…the song was blasting in the car on the way down!!
The song has two theories behind its meaning. The first is it is about a car and the second theory is it is about a stripper. The lyrics work either way as it is a wonderful double entendre. The song does mention all the typical car parts and hell there is even a part during the bridge where you hear an engine revving. That car engine is actually Eddie’s 1972 Lamborghini Miura S with a mic up to its tailpipe.
The album 1984 brought the keyboard sound into the bands music, but this song would have none of that. It had Eddie blasting through some brutal riffs and Alex was pounding away at the drums and the brothers gave us the Van Halen of old. Dave is his classic self and is belting out the lyrics and even giving us a little of that spoken verse style he does so famously towards the end.
For My Sunday Song #114, we will discuss the song “Who Can’t It Be Now” by Men at Work. The song was off the Australian band’s debut album ‘Business as Usual’ and went all the way to #1 in the US Billboard chart thanks in large part to MTV. MTV didn’t have a ton of videos around 1982 and this would was in constant rotation as a result.
The song is so recognizable when the first note of the Greg Ham’s saxophone kicks in. The sax is the better than a guitar riff in this case. Originally the saxophones was only played in the middle of the song, but the record producer felt it was such a great hook that it should be the main musical focus of the song. And I would say he was correct.
The song was written by singer Colin Hay and was about a place he lived in St. Kilda, Victoria. The apartment complex at the time was in a shady part of town and all these scary figures would be around. Someone was selling drugs on his floor and would mistakenly knock on his door and that might have frightened him a little based on the lyrics in this song.
In the fledgling days of MTV, they didn’t have a ton of videos so a lot of bands that weren’t getting played on the radio, suddenly had prominence on MTV simply because they had a video. One lucky band was The Tubes with their amazing song and video for “She’s A Beauty”. The song was released in 1983 and was off their album ‘Outside Inside’. The song reached all the way to #10 on the Billboard Hot 100 thanks to MTV. I know I became a fan off that video and the constant rotation on MTV. When I came across the 45 a few months back, I had to grab it.
The song was written by Fee Waybill, famed producer David Foster and Steve Lukather from the band Toto. And the inspiration for the song came from a San Francisco peep show where Fee paid $1 to talk to a naked woman. The conversation was rather frustrating and that frustration turned into the song. There is a line in the song that references that conversation…”She’ll give you every penny’s worth / But it will cost you a dollar first” (thanks to Fee for discussing this in a YouTube video for the song).
For My Sunday Song #65, I chose “Lunatic Fringe” by Canadian rock band Red Rider. The song is off their 1981 album ‘As Far as Siam” and is probably the band’s most famous song. The song charted as high as #11 on the Billboard Mainstream Rock chart, but never cracked the Top 40 of the Bill board Hot 100. Actually, they never had a song chart in the Top 40 so I guess you could categorize them as a No-Hit Wonder, at least here in the States.
But for me the song was a hit. MTV surely played it a lot as that was the only place I ever heard it at the time. The creepiness of the song was what drove me to liking it. I like dark and creepy songs for some reason. The song really starts out with a creepy keyboard sound, almost evil feel to it. From the keyboard sounds, you then get a quick couple guitar notes that add a punch to it. And from there, the song kicks into full band mode and Tom Cochrane’s vocals. The song ends with city street sounds including sirens and then ends with the guitar riff from the beginning. The song worked form beginning to end.
According to Mike Bell of the Canadian Online Explorer, “Lunatic Fringe” was inspired by “what Cochrane saw as an alarming rise of anti-Semitism in the ’70s, and was also partially inspired by a book he read on Raoul Wallenberg, who helped thousands of Jews escape Nazi Germany”. And per Wikipedia, “lunatic fringe” is a “term used to characterize members of a political or social movement as extremists with eccentric or fanatical views. The term was popularized by Theodore Roosevelt, who wrote in 1913 that, “Every reform movement has a lunatic fringe.”” which is why he named the song as he did.
Over the past couple weeks, I have dived deeply into Whitesnake’s early albums such as ‘Lovehunter’, ‘Ready an’ Willing’, ‘Come an’ Get It’ and “Saints & Sinners’. And I actually picked up ‘Ready an’ Willing’ and ‘Come an’ Get It’ on vinyl last week. Those albums are so good and hate that I didn’t really know about them back in the day. It got me thinking about the first album I bought from Whitesnake which was simply ‘Whitesnake’.
The album came out in 1987, my senior year of high school. It quickly became one of my favorite albums of that year (behind ‘Hysteria’ by Def Leppard of course). It was pure 80’s hair metal (or whatever label you want to give it) and pure magic. The pounding drums, the guitar solos, the thumping bass, the synthesizers and that voice. A combination that as a sure fire hit. Which it was as the album actually went to #2 on the Billboard charts.
However, this album almost didn’t get made. After 10 years of playing with little to no success, David Coverdale was ready to call it quits for Whitesnake. The U.S. had pretty much ignored the band and the former Deep Purple singer had about had enough. If it wasn’t for the record label, Geffen Records, Whitesnake as we know it, would be gone forever.
Every decade gives us crappy songs and the 80’s probably gave us one of the worst songs I have ever heard. I find it amazing that this song actually received steady rotation on MTV. What is the song you ask? It is “Fish Heads” by Barnes & Barnes.
Now I think the song actually came out in 1978 and was a favorite of Dr. Demento’s radio show, but that doesn’t help its case for me. Even knowing that actor, Bill Paxton, was the appeared in the video still doesn’t help. I think I saw somewhere he was also the director. That just makes me think less of Bill Paxton (that and Twister didn’t help).
I know this was a comedy bit, but it is so gawd awful. I can’t find one redeeming thing about this song. Maybe I am too dense to be in on the joke. See what you think and if you don’t die from a brain hemorrhage, let me know your thoughts.
It is hard to believe, but it was 35 years ago today that MTV debuted and changed music forever. It also changed me forever. When we got cable, MTV was the channel I had to watch. It was the channel that shaped my music tastes and helped make me so obsessive about music.
It allowed us to not only listen to our favorite music, but actually get to see our favorite artists. We no longer had to wait for American Bandstand to come on or get the latest music magazine to see the artists. We could watch them every day, all day in their videos.
The first video played on MTV was The Buggles – “Video Killed the Radio Star”. This was the most appropriate opening video they could have possibly chosen. Although it didn’t really help their career as I couldn’t name another song they did. It did make them famous forever for being known as the song that was the first video on MTV. If you want to see a list of all the videos played on the 1st day, click on this link to wikipedia.